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PRINCETON — The 2019-20 town budget will feature no tax rate increase, Mayor Don Rains said following the Princeton Board of Commissioners budget workshop held after the board’s regular monthly meeting June 3.
The tax rate will remain at 56 cents per $100 in property valuation.
“The town of Princeton will be involved in lots of major projects over the coming year designed to improve our quality of life, and we are happy to be able to accomplish this without having to raise our taxes,” said Town Administrator Marla Ashworth. “Tax rates have stayed basically the same over the past three years.”
“I think the projected growth in Princeton is going to increase our reserves without increasing our rate,” Ashworth added. “You can see the growth coming this way.”
The total budget for the upcoming year is $1,754,994 and is composed of the general fund budget total budget of $1,033,986 and the water and sewer fund total budget of $721,008.
Ashworth said tax revenue has increased by 11.98% due to the 2019 Johnston County revaluation and natural growth.
Commodity fees for water and sewer will increase by 5%, but Ashworth said this increase is necessary due to the increased cost of bulk water provided by Johnston County public utilities and price inflation of materials necessary to maintain the water distributions system, sewage collections system and the wastewater treatment plant.
She added this increase will add less than $4 per month to the total bill for 88.49% of residential customers and less than $7.50 per month to the total bill for 85.42% of commercial customers within the town limits.
Also in the proposed budget, Ashworth said all town employees will receive a 2% cost of living allowance.
Town of Princeton employees in administration and public works receive portions of their salary from both the general fund and water and sewer fund. Police employees receive compensation from only the general fund.
North Carolina local government employees’ retirement system expense has increased by 19.59%, mainly due to an increase in the required match percentage for the town.
Health insurance expense has increased by 17.61% based on the renewal premium.
Overall payroll expense that includes salary, taxes, retirement, workers’ compensation insurance and health insurance benefits has increased by 4.58% across both funds.
Ashworth said this year’s budget might be considered dull and boring compared to other years.
“Some years we buy equipment and complete special projects and that was not the case this year,” said Ashworth. “I feel like this is a conservative budget. We are always looking at ways to be more efficient.”
“I would rather us try to remove some of the debts we already have,” Commissioner Mike Rose said during the meeting.
Plans for full repayment for a 2015 Dodge Durango, purchased in February 2016 for the police department, financed with KS Bank for $32,436.14 for five years, are part of the general fund budget for a savings of $200 in interest.
Ashworth added that the purchase of an additional 6,000 gallons of water capacity from Johnston County, a cost of $29,700 prior to Oct. 1, is included in the water and sewer fund budget.
After Oct. 1, the cost increases to $36,000; therefore, Princeton is saving a total of $6,300 she said.
An advertised public hearing regarding the proposed budget will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 17 at Princeton Town Hall.
If there are no issues, the board can then adopt the budget following the hearing. By state law, the budget must be adopted June 30 ahead of the fiscal year that begins in July.